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Steve Sabella in Conversation with Sara Rossino | The Changing Room


SR: Steve, I know you are a careful ob- server of the reality both inside and outside of yourself. Did you foresee or somehow expect the recent events in the Middle East? What was your reaction when you realized what was happening? Was there a specific event or image that made you realize that something really shaking was happening?
SS: There was a state of mental stagnation present in the Arab countries that was clearly felt in the last decade. It seemed that people gave in and felt powerless. I did not, and I guess many people did not foresee the current events. The Tunisian revolution created two iconic voices that have entered history. These two voices have penetrated and shook me during the creation of Beyond Euphoria (2011). The first one is the voice of the man who went in a dramatic scene shouting in the
street the moment he heard that Ben Ali ‘fled away’ (Ben Ali Hrab). The other is the voice of an older man with white hair (Harimna, Harimna), who was speaking with a voice that, like the first one, con- densed one hundred years of Arab his- tory. Both of their voices recapitulated the agony, the pain, the anticipation, the frustration, the joy, the sadness, the rev- elation and the euphoria of how every Arab felt. In Paris, I had the utmost hon- or of having dinner in the most astonish- ing and unforeseen manner with the first voice. His name is Abdennaceur Aouini.
My state of transition and euphoria pre- ceded the Arab revolts. My journey of interrogation and introspection has been leading me to self-liberation. To achieve it, I had to confront myself, journey to my core and question my ‘beliefs’ and every- thing in my ‘reality’. The journey starts from within and once it starts, change is inevitable. It is possible, that this is what people in many different countries real- ized. Beyond Euphoria was created at a time when I was absorbing the dramatic changes in the Arab World. The unfold- ing events influenced this artwork and shifted it from its original conception.


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